Sunday, June 25, 2017

A B C B




In two months, she will be two years old.

"My girl...my girl! Lie t'me." She sings our Lead Belly lullaby out of tune and without most of the words. She sings, "tinkle tinkle little 'tar, how I wonder what you aaaare!", as well as an abridged version of the alphabet, "ABCB...H....I...Penny Doggy!" and Raffi's "baby baloooooga. Baby balooooga!" And when she dances, she twirls in slow circles.

One morning, while reading the newspaper, she wanted my attention and so she stood on her table and belted out, "PAPA GONNA BUY YOU MOCKING BIRD! Don't sing!" from the old folk song, Hush Little Baby. She also climbs the stairs, while letting out short exaggerated exhales: try. to. catch. ME., every breath, stomp and stair slap implies. 

"You need to wait for Mumma!" I holler, running after her, which only makes her climb faster and breathe louder.

She also squeals and screams when she wants me to look at her.

"Ouch! That hurts my ears, Amelia." I say. 

Sometimes, while sitting beside me, she'll press her teeth to my bare arm and through a sly smile threaten to bite my flesh. When I pull my arm away, she rattles off a list of people she isn't supposed to bite. "Don't bite Mummy. Don't bite Daddy. Don't bite Lily..." It is a long list.

"What can you bite?" I ask.

"Cheese!" Cheese is her first response. I don't know why. I ask her about bananas, blueberries and bread and she agrees - they too are appropriate things to place between her teeth. Some of the time, she lifts her mouth from my wet skin and skips right to: "Don't bite people! Don't bite animals! Bite FOOD!"  

Last month, at a birthday party, under a silky red parachute, she just about lost her mind. The grownups were holding the outside edges, making the parachute wave, flutter and billow. She was so excited, she made all the other jumping jubilant children appear ungrateful and bored. She sprinted barefoot back and forth and in circles, jacked up on joy, squealing, while looking into the eyes of all the other children as if she say, "Can you EVEN believe this?!" Her enthusiasm was contagious. I was so happy I let her have a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We even stayed past nap time, leaving mid-afternoon. She fell asleep in the car on our way home. Parked in the driveway, I sat with the windows open, reading my newspaper, while she slept behind me in silence.

She still goes on long unintelligible ramblings, but most of what she says, I understand.

"Na night, Daddy. I la' you. Daddy washin' dishes." She says, climbing the stairs at bedtime.

Last week, she weaned herself from nursing. I wasn't expecting it. I assumed we would get to it eventually this summer, but I was dreading it. Nursing had always been one of her most favorite things. She'd practically clap her hands and dance whenever I'd reach to unbutton, unzip or pull down my top. Then one night last week, she simply forgot. Our bed time routine had been: Nursing in the rocking chair. Books in bed. Lights out. Then one night, she didn't to mention it. So I didn't mention it.  We dressed her in pajamas and climbed into bed, read a pile of picture books and turned out the light. "Mumma lie down. Mumma, lie down." She fell asleep with a hand on my hair. The following night, she asked to nurse, but I distracted her with books. In the middle of the night, she asked again, so I sang her to sleep. A week later, she still mentions it occasionally, but it sounds more out of habit. 

She says, "nurse?" 

And I reply, "Amelia doesn't nurse anymore." 

Then we discuss all the people she knows who no longer breastfeed. It is a long list, one that includes her cousins, myself and her father.

In the fall, she will attend school for the first time. I've been offered a job as a toddler teacher in a Montessori school on the other side of the river. I'll be teaching children her age, but she'll be next door in the other toddler classroom. I'm excited. It feels right for us. I think it will be interesting, challenging, exhausting, rewarding, fun, stressful, beautiful, busy.... all the descriptors that make life life. For now, at the end of June, she and I are wrapped up in summer's slowness, in searching for libraries, gardens, raspberry muffins, sandboxes, strawberries, playground slides, sprinklers, worms, woodpeckers and sweet drippy popsicles.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bugs



In the basement, we sit on the couch and share two berry rhubarb popsicles and half a bag of pretzels. It's cooler down here. Upstairs, the temperature reaches the mid-nineties before mid-morning. After our walk with the furry dog and the mosquitoes and the sharp sun rays, we retreat to the cool dark basement to play and read. It isn't a scary basement, but a walk out with windows and second hand furniture, cream colored walls and closets full of coats and old baby clothes. With us, we have the basket with the swinging handle. It holds my unread newspaper, our bottles of water, a magazine, a few toys and picture books. My pale pudgy daughter sits beside me. She is covered in pink bug bites. They love her fresh flesh. They bite her through her pants and long sleeves and cap. They even bite her skin when it's still wet with bug spray. We grownups talk about how the mosquitoes must be from all this rain and from the pine tree that fell this past winter and was cut into pieces and put into a pile down the path. It wasn't this bad last year. Right? Weren't we outside playing all the time? And it wasn't this hot. Was it? We can't quite remember. 

"What if this is our climate change? A massive amount of ticks and mosquitoes and 90 degree heat waves."  I say.

My husband shrugs. 
 
We let most of the spiders live in our ceiling corners, though I confess to carrying three to the porch banister the other night and watching them skitter away into the dark. It's because they all looked to be cradling egg sacks. 

The other day we hiked through the forest to the dam in the rain. I wore my daughter on my back and held our umbrella and the dog's leash in my hands. I saw only one mosquito the entire time. Of course, if there were drops of water falling from the sky that were the same size as me, I'd be hiding too. 

Little black ants claimed the coffee maker last week. I kept finding them gathering at the base. I'd wipe them away with white vinegar and then see more soon after. It took me awhile before I realized that an entire colony had claimed the inside of the machine. Out of sight, beneath the plastic dish for the grounds, a queen ant was hatching little white eggs while all her fathers carried them with their legs. I nearly screamed. At first glance, I thought they were maggots. Why are those ants carrying maggots? I thought. Oh. Eggs. I hate to say it, but I threw the machine onto the porch and sprayed it with bleach. What a terrible person I am. You'd think a mother would have a bit more sympathy for other mothers, even insect mothers, but no. Unfortunately my imagination makes me itchy. I'm happy to co-habitat up to a point, but the eggs just feel like an invasion. I worry they'll cover my kitchen counters and walls and my skin while I'm sleeping.  So sometimes I spray them with bleach until they stop moving.